Tuesday, March 29, 2005

Going to hell in an Easter basket

I miss kid-Easter. We were heathen children, growing up--not even part of the lily-and-poinsettia crowd of twice-yearly churchgoers--but we loved dyeing eggs. Nowadays you can marbleize them, or do Victorian decoupage, or have Martha come over and hand-gild a few when she gets her anklet off...but in the 70s, we just had the Paas tablets, dissolving too slowly in Grandma's most chipped and stained coffee cups. We loved the vinegary reek of it, and tolerated the flimsy bent copper wire that was supposed to serve as an egg-dipping tool but inevitably caused your egg to KONK to the bottom of the cup or slip free and roll off the table. Our post-Easter egg salads were always veined with purple and blue from assorted crunchy mishaps.

When I was ten, my dad claimed me and Sis for the Easter holiday and took us to his sister's, a one-time event that may be self-explanatory, shortly. Dad had remarried a few months before, to a young, pretty waitress almost exactly between he and I in age. She could drink legally, but not by more than a year or two. This was before terms like "blended family" were invented or kids were entitled to opinions: you were introduced to your new Step-Something and then you relinquished the shotgun seat and zipped it, thanks. So...metaphorical elbows were still being thrown as we all jockeyed for position and adjusted to one another.

My aunt had remarried, herself, so that for this holiday there were at least six kids present, half- and step- and regular cousins all jammed into the kitchen and tasked with coloring eggs to grace the dinner table. Maybe it's significant that I can't remember which of us had the idea, only that we all thought it was an excellent one. Someone took the translucent white crayon that came with the dye kit and inscribed one of the eggs:


We kept it out for last and dunked it haphazardly in every color. It came out sort of an olive-drab shade, not the brown we were hoping for but still highly unappealing, candidly declaring TURD in childish, high-contrast printing. TURD!

Each place setting at the table had a ruffled paper cupcake panty filled with cellophane Easter grass, a few jellybeans, and a festive dyed egg. By silent consensus, we set the TURD egg at my stepmom's place.

Twenty-five years later, Step and I have reached a cordial peace. This allows me to imagine, a little, what that moment must have felt like, gathered at the table with her considerable new extended family, the kids all snuffling and snorting with barely suppressed hilarity. Saying grace over a glistening ham, a cake molded in the shape of a lamb and iced with shredded coconut...and a grimy green ovoid next to her plate hollering TURD! Bless this mess, Christ is risen, a dozen pretty pastel eggs with stripes and bunny decals and you get TURD TURD TURD. You are TURD, child-bride stepmom. You are Other.

I'd like to see Julia Roberts make a movie out of that.

Thursday, March 24, 2005


Californian Finds Finger In Bowl of Fast Food Chili

This is the part I like: “This individual apparently did take a spoonful, did have a finger in their mouth and then, you know, spit it out and recognized it,” said Ben Gale, director of the department of environmental health for Santa Clara County. “Then they had some kind of emotional reaction and vomited.”

I imagine that the emotional-reaction spectrum is necessarily very broad, as it would need to be to accommodate my reaction to NEARLY EATING A FINGER.

Welcome wagon

We shuffle offices periodically here at The Corporation That Dare Not Speak Its Name, Or At Least I Don't Lest I Get Dooced: it's an elaborate dance of reorgs and seniority and proportional space and which teams they want to smoosh together and force to be civil to each other at any given time. It's kind of goofy; in our most recent move, a couple weeks ago, one of the editors was made to move just two doors down. He could have lugged his belongings the 20 feet himself in less time than it took to pack them in boxes for the professionals to wheel around on a dolly. I myself lost my window office and am now on the interior side of the hallway; the space is larger but I'm still disgruntled because LIGHT! I NEED LIGHT! I AM COLD-BLOODED, LIKE A LIZARD! This too shall pass...sooner provided I can bump off a couple senior personnel ahead of me, she cackled.

So. New office. I leaned waaay back in my chair, absently stretching...and spotted something affixed to one of the acoustic ceiling tiles. It's one of those "Hello, My Name Is" stickers. It says, HELLO my name is DILL HOLE.

Tuesday, March 22, 2005


Gael is searching for Seattle's perfect burger, which has fueled quite the debate.

Different burgers serve different purposes, I think; I was born and raised on Dick's classic little gut-bomb beef pucks, and so I'll always have a soft spot for peeling melted American cheese off the sunny yellow-orange waxed paper wrappers. I kind of love them just by virtue of the fact that they basically make five things. The restaurants each feature a lurid painting of a massive, benign steer...there are no illusions about what you're getting. No, you can't have it your way. No, there are no salad tumblers or character-shaped cookies or any sort of protein-fingers. Next! I think a city ordinance requires that you have at least two Dick's napkins in your glove compartment at any time; god knows they've saved me from many a fogged mirror, wayward beverage, or traffic-induced blubbering jag. One of my earliest memories is of standing in line at the Wallingford drive-in, too short even to see over the counter, hypnotized by the orange, white, and brown mosaic tiles. (Full disclosure: Mom was one of the grand-prize winners in the 50th Anniversary Memory Book contest; she grew up a block away. Hee hee hee!)

Meanwhile I miss a classic New York diner burger, and made sure to have one while I was there: hand-formed patty, cooked to order, an onion ring on top if you're lucky. Have it rare! Melt your brain! They don't give a rip, it's your life!

Anyway. So people are coming out of the woodwork praising the late, lamented Baby Moons at the Triple-X Drive-In in Issaquah: cheese AND jalapeno-stuffed (thanks, Sis!) tater tots. Gael seems...aghast, but I'm telling you, these were one of the two perfect foods in the world. They covered four categories: spicy, starchy, fried, and cheeeeeese. All in one compact, bite-sized unit. God, I miss them still.

Would it be excessive, to try and hand-craft one's own tater tots?

The other perfect food: chocolate-covered pretzels, naturally. Again, four quadrants of snack coverage: salty, crunchy, fatty, chocolate. These are truly the only PMS snack, better than Midol and, thank goodness, readily available.

Tuesday, March 08, 2005

Hello, again, hello

Just got an e-mail from my mom; the district office at her work "audited" her voice mail account because she was saving too many messages. It turns out that her mailbox was full because she never accessed it, having forgotten her password. THREE YEARS AGO.

Aw, my mum. Guess I'll keep her. And, you know, try to communicate mostly face-to-face.

Idling at the curb in front of Death's house

No longer at Death's door, but.

I was all set to blog my trip to New York, and be all effusive and ebullient about bagels and turnstiles and chocolates on my pillow in The Greatest City in the World...but halfway through, I got sick. Dog-sick, want-your-mommy sick, as sick as I've been since I was a little kid. I crawled under the schmancy bajillion-thread-count comforter fully clothed and shivered. I ordered a $28 hamburger from room service and ended up thrusting it back into the hallway. I forced myself on a death march through art museums, where, hopped up on enough cold medicine, Kandinsky makes all kinds of sense and everything strongly resembles Van Gogh's Starry Night. And I am sorry, fellow travelers, for being That Person on the plane home: the woman slugging back Duane Reade-brand cherry Nyte-Tyme straight from the bottle and collecting the furious glares of other passengers. As we descended over Seattle, I thought the plates of my skull might separate from the pressure. Crashing, I thought, might not be so bad; at least I would no longer feel like this.

Here's how sick I was: every year for nearly a decade now, I've hosted an Oscar party replete with junk food and howling at the television. I did it last year, when my guests all had to sit on moving boxes. This year, I canceled it. And WENT TO BED. I did not even WATCH. I was too sick even to be sad about it.

Here's how sick I was: I went to the DOCTOR. I'm part of an endless line of hardy prairie stock, staunch women known for sucking on kerosene-soaked sugar lumps for a sore throat, for birthing babies in under five hours, for saying "oh, it's just a cracked rib, put some tape on it." I went to the doctor and had to describe the color and quality of my mucus in detail for my file. (At one point, I had crap coming out of MY EYES, virtually every hole in my head engaged in the battle.) The doctor ruled out strep, advised me "Rest. Tylenol. Gargle. Hot compresses," which I hope was not the high point of her twelve years of schooling.

I am better. I am not at 100%, but I'm better. Well enough to work, alas. I'm a bit snuffly, and my ears are still stopped up; my head feels sort of like a half-full novelty mug. When I lean over I can feel everything gloomp and sloosh around in there.

But, like I said, half-full. Ever the optimist.

New York stories are forthcoming, I promise.